TUSCALOOSA — Alabama’s football team will spend Saturday night at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, La., and the Tide is fine with that.
The stadium’s nickname throws some of them a little bit, however, especially running back Eddie Lacy, who is from Geismar, La., which is about 22 miles down I-10 from Baton Rouge.
“When you have to go play somewhere called Death Valley, you’re like, ‘Uh, er,’ ” Lacy said, smiling. “But seriously? You know, they’re going to have the crowd, and they’re going to have their energy going. Just the stadium, especially when you play at nighttime, that’s a different effect.”
Judging by recent history, Tiger Stadium isn’t one of those places everyone says is a tough place to play but really isn’t. Statistically, the 92,542-seat stadium is the toughest place nationally for visitors, especially Saturday night. In fact, Alabama’s last road loss came in 2010 at LSU, and that was a day game.
The Bengal Tigers have won 22 straight at home, which is the nation’s longest streak. Since Les Miles arrived at LSU as head coach, the team is 36-1 on Saturday night at home.
Tim Tebow and Florida managed the lone win in 2009. That Gators team entered Tiger Stadium ranked No. 1 in the major polls, as Alabama is now.
“The main thing is just the atmosphere of the crowd,” Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley said. “Some teams might go down there and just not have the right mindset or be ready to play and might let the crowd get to them or let the adversity get to them.”
Crimson Tide strength and conditioning coach Scott Cochran on Monday read the Tide players a quote about Tiger Stadium from Miles, who has a school-record five wins over Alabama: “This is truly a place where opponents’ dreams go to die.”
“It’ll be my first time playing there at night-time,” Alabama receiver Kevin Norwood said.
“Last time I played there it was daytime, so I don’t really know the crowd that well, besides that they hate us, of course, and that they’re going to be loud. LSU is going to have their crowd behind them.”
Alabama safety Robert Lester started in that 2010 game. He said he recalled getting too pumped up, until getting a calming talk from teammate Mark Barron, who is now in the NFL.
“I was real emotional in 2010 when I got there, and Mark Barron, one of the more experienced guys, took me under wraps and told me ‘Hey, just go out there and play football,’ ” Lester said.
Lester figures it will be his turn to provide the calming influence this time.
“It’s difficult, a tough environment,” he said. “The fans are into it as much as the players.”
But in the end, is it really that much more than a football stadium? Lacy said the field still is the same as any other.
“You can talk and say whatever you want, but at the end of the day you have to play on the field, you know,” he said.